“Trouble pursues the sinner, but the righteous are rewarded with good things.” –Proverbs 13:21
When Lexi does something right, I reward her with something good. I give her dog treats. (Our “dog treats” are cut-up bits of hot dog.) I reward her immediately. Our trainer told us we have five seconds to reward her behavior before she forgets what she did. There must be a one-to-one correspondence between behavior and reward. I can’t store up all Lexi’s rewards for the end of the day. Similarly, Proverbs 13:21 promises that when we do something right—when we live righteously—God will reward us with something good. But we shouldn’t expect our righteousness to be rewarded with a big house, fancy car, or private plane. God rarely treats us to material things. Nor should we expect our reward immediately. If we volunteer to lead a mission trip, we won’t find a fat check in our mailbox. If we hold our tongue at a family reunion, we won’t find a new car in the driveway. There isn’t a one-to-one correspondence between behavior and reward. Yet God doesn’t withhold all our rewards for the end of the day (when we get to heaven). There are rewards here on earth. There’s satisfaction in using our gifts and talents. There’s a sense of purpose in doing good works. We’re blessed by intact relationships not damaged by hurtful words or jealousy. Doing the right thing causes good things to happen. That’s what Lexi learned in her training classes. It’s what we learn when we walk with God.
Dear God, Teach me to recognize that the rewards for my righteousness are the good things that happen because of it. Amen